Sports are well known for building character, but any blue-collar laborer will tell you that you can't judge the true measure of a man until he's done some hard work as well.
In that sense the Carson Senators came through in both senses Saturday, spending the better part of three hours pushing brooms and squeegees in order to remove enough water off Ron McNutt Field in order to play their doubleheader with Damonte Ranch.
And perhaps it's fitting that the Senators had brooms in their hands, because on the heels of their 10-0 shutout of the Mustangs on Thursday at Damonte Ranch High School, they ended up sweeping their Sierra League rival with a pair of hard-fought victories on Saturday.
Carson overcame a three-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning to take a 10-9 victory in the front end of the twin bill and trailed 5-1 in the second game before exploding for a 15-6 win.
"I'm proud of the kids today," said Carson coach Steve Cook, whose team began clearing standing water and tarps around 10 a.m. and finished a little under an hour before their 2 p.m. game. "They're very resilient. They put a lot of hours in on the field to get it ready to go, and then they played two tough games. (Unlike Thursday) we had neither game in our hands from the first pitch. The kids came back. Every time they put some runs up, (Damonte Ranch) seemed to answer."
But so did Carson. Perhaps no play was as emblematic of the Senators' effort was as one by junior catcher Brooks Greenlee.
With Carson up 15-6 with one out in the top of the seventh inning, Damonte Ranch's Chad Mitchell popped a ball up foul near the backstop. With the day's work and nearly two full games in the squat position, Greenlee hustled - albeit unsuccessfully - and dove face-first after the ball as if the state championship game depended on it.
"That's Brooksy," Cook said. "One hundred percent all of the time. The kids respond when Brooks goes crazy. If the ball is within reach, we expect him to do that. Catching both ends of a doubleheader and still going for it...that shows character."
And character is what Carson, now in second place behind only Reno in the Sierra League showed all day and into the evening.
The Senators, who had gone 33 innings without allowing an unearned run, finally surrendered one on Davis Belardes' RBI-single in the fourth inning, which cut Carson's lead to 2-1.
After the Mustangs rallied back to tie it 4-4 on a Ray Daniels single in the top of the sixth, Carson answered in the bottom of the inning, when third baseman Sean Costella's triple scored designated hitter David Leid and an errant throw from second to home allowed Costella to score on the play and put the Senators up 6-4.
But an ugly seventh saw the Mustangs put up five runs with two out. Jose Linares put Damonte up 7-6, bringing in three runs with a bases-loaded double to left. A throwing error by Greenlee and a single by Daniels put Carson down 9-6, with only a half-inning to come back.
And come back it did.
Right fielder Tony Fagan's single brought in Greenlee, who was hit by a pitch. Then second baseman Logan Parsley hit a bomb to left, which bounced off Chad Schryer's mitt and the wall, bringing in Josh Caron, who had also been hit by a pitch.
A Kevin Schlange single to right brought in Fagan to tie it, and following an intentional walk to Leid, Costella's bunt off second reliever Mitchell brought in Parsley for the winning run.
Senior Jack Jacquet went 5 1/3 innings on the mound for Carson in the first game, spreading out six hits and four runs, while striking out eight and walking two. He was replaced by eventual winner Nick Smallman, who entered the game with one out and one on in the sixth.
Jake Johnson went 6 1/3 for the Mustangs, allowing six runs and seven hits, while striking out five. Daniels allowed two runs and a hit in relief, taking the loss.
Both teams stranded five runners and although Damonte outhit Carson, 11-10, its seven errors (to Carson's four) spelled doom.
The Mustangs had momentum early in the second game and jumped on Carson starter Kyle Mandoki. Second baseman Shain Smith hit a two-run double and Marcus Boundy's fielder's choice put the Senators behind 3-0 in the top of the second inning.
Although Schlange scored on a throwing error to cut it to 3-1 in the bottom of the inning, the Mustangs upped their lead to 5-1 in the third. Mitchell scored on a passed ball and Linares followed on a throwing error by Greenlee.
Carson rallied once again, scoring three in the bottom of the third. Greenlee's triple scored Royal Good, Jacquet brought in Greenlee with a single and pinch hitter Leid's sacrifice fly scored Parsley to make it 5-4.
Mandoki lasted 3 1/3 innings, giving up all six runs on five hits. Sophomore lefty Rob Valerius entered with his team trailing 6-4 and pitched 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball, while striking out six and walking two, earning the win.
Parsley - who hit two home runs against the Mustangs on Thursday - supplied some more fireworks in the fourth inning, hitting a 370-foot, three-run shot in center field to give Carson the lead, 7-6.
Fagan added an RBI-single to make it 8-6, chasing out starter Donald Broderick.
The Senators pounded out seven runs on four hits in the sixth to put the game and the series away. Schlange had an RBI-single, Jacquet scored on a bases-loaded walk, Good hit a two-run single and Greenlee added a two-run triple to round up Carson's scoring.
Cook credited Valerius and Parsley for helping pull out the second game.
"We were kind of teetering back and forth on the verge of coming back (when Parsley hit his homer)," Cook said. "That was a shot - one of the hardest shots I've seen. It seemed to put the momentum in our favor."
Speaking of momentum, Carson improved to 10-1 overall and 8-1 in the Sierra League. In winning their eighth game in a row, the Senators dropped the Mustangs to 5-8, 3-6.
"We don't look at standings or stats," Cook said. "Those are good for mom and dad and grandpa and grandma. We have North Valleys on Thursday. Standings are nice, but we want to be on top. We want only one loss on our record going in against Reno, but we're not taking anybody for granted."